The Kingdom of Spain is a nation on the Iberian peninsula in Europe. At different points it was the largest nation in the world and at one point controlled nearly half of Africa and at another controlled almost all of South America. Spain reached its high point in the aftermath of the second world war when it was the world's largest economy and had the largest military. Although the Kingdom has fallen in esteem and power since then it retains a place on the League of Nations high council and is a major player in global politics.
The Loss of the Americas
The Napoleonic Wars and the occupation and destruction of Iberia that resulted from them left Spain bankrupt and unable to financially maintain a presence in South America. Despite the futility of any continued attempts to hold on to the Empire the Spanish government continued to fight a number of wars against South American movements led by Bolivar. Furthermore, they continued to insist on a continued presence on the North American continent, despite a desperate need for the money that the Americans were more than happy to provide.
It soon became clear that it would be impossible for the Spanish to hold their South American colonies and furthermore that their colonies in North America had begun to lean the same way as their South American cousins, influenced by both Bolivar's success in the south and the success of the new United States in the north. It was at this point that the other European powers decided to step in. The constant warring in the Americas impacted on the all important trade of goods across the Atlantic. The Concert of Europe decided upon an arbitrary amount of gold to pay to the Spanish for the loss of South America to be recovered through shipping tariffs and forced them to sell their northern colonies to the USA.
As a result, only Cuba and a few other islands remained of the Spanish empire anywhere on the Globe. Despite the financial compensation, mismanagement of the country and increasingly expensive repressive tactics used against Basque and Catalonian separatists caused Spain to sink into depression and ruin.
The Revolution of 1848
Spanish fortunes began to turn, however, in the Revolutions of 1848. The Spanish Army, increasingly fed up with pointless wars against the various separatist groups, unilaterally declared a six month ceasefire to allow both sides to recover. This was in part a ruse to cover up increasing divisions within the ranks. At the beginning of 1848 the Catalonian separatists had changed their tactics and now claimed to seek the unity of Spain but under a fairer democratic system.
This appealed not only to Catalonians but also to other Spaniards who had become fed up with the government's repressive tactics and the increasing power of the Catholic church. In November 1848 as the ceasefire drew to an end fighting broke out between elements of the Spanish army between those seeking a return to the fighting and those who thought that an alliance with the Catalonians could be beneficial. The peasantry rose up in protest against the government and high taxes and in December 1848 seized Madrid, executed Queen Isabella II and attempted to install the Carolist claimant Charles V.
The divided army reunited at the news of Isabella II's death, though many thought she had not been liberal enough, all knew that a return to absolutist rule would be disastrous. The decision was made arbitrarily by the army that Charles V would be deposed and Isabella's young son be installed with authority vested in a parliament chosen by an enlarged suffrage. Under a federal system similar to the Union's, Spain began to move away from the troubles of the past and began to look across the med towards Africa where new colonies awaited.
With the rebellion in Catalonia put down and the rebellions of 1848 resolved for the most part the Spanish government began to look across the Mediterranean and towards the North African coast. Spain all ready controlled a number of small provinces and treaty ports along the coast but trouble had been brewing between the Spanish authorities and the Moroccan government. In 1852 a Moroccan infantry squad opened fire on a Spanish fishing boat, sparking the Cortes into action and resulting in the first of many colonial wars between the Spanish and there neighbours in Northern Africa. In a short but bloody war the Spanish defeated the Moroccans and significantly increased the size of its holdings in North Africa.
Internal developments as well as the development of a new banking system and the emergence of an industrial middle class brought about previously unknown levels of economic prosperity. The exploitation of the North African colonies provided Spain with a significant economic resource, as did the increased flow of increasingly popular goods such as sugar and coffee from Spain's remaining Caribbean colonies. This economic success was not without issue, however, as it emboldened the suppressed Catalonians and Basques who began to clamour for increased representation in the Cortes. Well aware that nothing unites a country quite like a war the Cortes began to look across the Atlantic towards its former south American colonies. The Argentine economy had failed to meet the reparations that the concert of Europe had demanded and Argentina had become dependent on Brazilian gold and Spanish loans. Spanish and Brasilian diplomats, aware of the Argentine problem and inability to pay its next debt payment to either Brasil or Spain met in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas in the summer of 1864. There they signed an alliance agreeing to assist one another in recovering what was owed to them, the next time that the Argentines decided not to pay their creditors.
In September 1864 Argentina defaulted on its debts to Spain and Brazil, attempts by the Argentines to renegotiate the payments fell on deaf ears as Brazil demanded immediate payment, or it would take military action. Fearful of the Brasilian economy and sure that if they waited Brasil would destroy them the Argentines decided to strike first, attacking the Brasilian city of Sao Paulo. The Spanish answered the call of their Brasilian allies and sent a sizable invasion fleet across the Atlantic, containing three ironclad battleships and a number of screw frigates and transports. Using the Anglo-Dutch bases along the way the Spanish decided to land a force in Buenos Aires and decapitate Argentine resistance before it even began.
Argentina did not fall as quickly as predicted, however. While the Spanish battleships and frigates successfully bombarded the Argentine coast the Argentine government resisted the demands of the Spanish and mounted a fierce resistance inland. The initial Spanish landing force was overwhelmed in its attempt to take the Argentine hinterland and the Spanish government was forced to launch a much larger second expeditionary force that numbered nearly a million. During the lapse between the defeat of the 1st Spanish force and the Arrival of the second force the Brazilian government launched a major offensive against the Argentine capital, despite the erstwhile alliance between the Brazilian and Spanish government both had different goals in the war, they both desired to place a their own monarch on the vacant Argentine throne and the alliance had agreed that the country that captured Buenos Aires would have the right to install there own Monarch. The Spanish decided to risk there force in a naval landing on the city's outskirts, although this risked losing the force it was the quickest guarantee of a Spanish victory. The landing, thankfully went of without a hitch and the Argentine war ended with the installation of the Spanish King on the Argentine throne.
The South American war secured the Spanish economy and returned national pride to the Spanish populace, Spain would go on to intervene a number of other times in South America in order to ensure the flow of money from the continent. In the process Spain crippled the economy of every country in South America excluding Brasil, although almost every single country attempted to break Spain's hold on their economy only Chile succeeded in doing so with the assistance of American Mercenaries and the Brasilian government, Brasil would go on to be a major thorn in Spanish operations in South America particularly as the century progressed and Brasil began to be regarded as a major player on the global stage. Over the later half of the 19th century Spain rebuilt its economy and established its colonial strength across the globe.
1896 begun a period of decline in Spain's colonial fortunes and drove it away from its alliance with Brasil and the United States and towards Austria-Hungary and Russia. The Philippines became the first colony since Haiti in the early 19th century to overthrow its colonial masters and establish a new state. The resulting rebellion in Cuba led to a conflict with the Union and the United States that was Spain's first major conflict of the industrial age, Although Spain had defeated the Argentines and the other South American states it had not yet faced a major conflict with an equal power, Spain did not lose as badly as some had expected but suffered major losses. The Spanish Navy did defeat the Royal Navy's attempt to capture the Canary Islands but the American Army was successful in taking control of Cuba. The Defeat in Cuba shook the Spanish government and resulted in major upset in the Cortes which drove forwards the establishment of the new Defensive Alliance with the Austrians, Russians and Mexicans.
The World Wars
The First World War
Spain's involvement in the First World War came about as a result of its ties with the rest of the Defensive Alliance. Although the Spanish government had no real concerns with the governments of the Union or its major allies and was one of the few defensive alliance members fairly happy with its lot in the world, its alliance with the other states dragged it into the degrading global situation. When the Russian North Sea fleet accidentally attacked and destroyed a British fishing fleet without provocation and the Union declared war on the Russian Empire, Spain found itself dragged into the conflict when the Ottomans. Hoping to gain more control over the North African coast attacked the Spanish colonies in North Africa.
Although the defensive alliance went on to lose the first world war Spanish involvement was fairly limited, the conflict in North Africa was the only theatre of the war where Spanish ground troops fought in combat. Although Spanish ships were also involved in the conflict in the Atlantic and the North Sea as well as the Mediterranean North Africa was the only area in which Spanish holdings were threatened. Although Portugal was technically allied with the Imperial Alliance an informal arrangement between Spain and Portugal allowed both countries to avoid the major damage that any full scale conflict similar to that which occurred on the Western and Eastern fronts in central Europe.
In North Africa Spanish troops found themselves in a good position to overrun the Ottoman defences and to seize Ottoman North Africa, despite the major reforms that had occurred within the Ottoman Empire the Spanish army, well experienced in conflict between major states as a result of the war with the Union and America over Cuba and the Philippines as well as the numerous conflicts within South America. The elite Spanish North African army defeated its opposing force from the Ottoman Empire and occupied Libya. The Spanish Government had not been prepared for the war, however, and while it was initially successful in defeating the Ottoman forces in North Africa they soon ran into a problem. Spain had very few force in North Africa and Europe, its major armies were located in South America in order to secure Spain's control over the South American states.
As a result when the Union mobilized its troops in Egypt and mounted a counter attack that saw Spanish troops driven back to their bases on the Libyan coast. With the help of the Spanish navy Spain held onto a number of port cities on the Libyan coast before being re-inforced with troops from South America. Once they were re-inforced, the Spanish troops launched a counterattack that took them all the way to Alexandria, The re-deployment of tanks and armoured forces in the summer of 1907 from the European theatre helped the Union hold the city but they could not drive off the much larger Spanish force. The war in North Africa became a stalemate, even though Imperial troops were by now throwing themselves at the Spanish Armies defences in Gibraltar and Northern Spain the Spanish became masters of defensive warfare and the Union and its allies simply could not muster the forces necessary to drive the Spanish back. An attempted naval landing at Benghazi was driven back by the Spanish navy and further Imperial attempts were halted by the Spanish blockade of the Suez Canal and the capture of the Union's fortress at Gibraltar which became a major choke point for Imperial operations.
In 1909, as the war drew to a close the Spanish launched a major offensive in Northern Spain and North Africa as well as commencing Operation Venganza de Felipe II or Philips Revenge, a major amphibious assault on the British Isles. The attacks in Northern Spain and Africa secured Alexandria and drove the Imperials out of Iberia, the assault on the British Isles, however, was less successful although a small number of Spanish troops did land in Cornwall and took the cities of Turo and Exeter the Royal Navy successfully engaged and destroyed the majority of the Spanish fleet in the first fleet conflict of the Dreadnought Era. With its fleet in tatters and with no way of resupplying the Spanish gains in Britain and Africa. The Spanish were forced to sue for peace, ceding all rights to Cuba and Egypt but retaining there gains from the Ottomans. Spain was the last alliance member to sign a peace treaty with the Imperials and although Spain had not one the conflict it had made gains in North Africa and had lost only a little international prestige. Domestically, however, just as it did in every country the loss of so many men and the damage to industry left the Cortes divided between those who saw the war as a success - or at worst a draw - and those who viewed it as a failure and a spur for the adoption of new radical political ideas. Amongst the latter group was an as yet unknown former officer and member of the left wing Party of Justice and Equality (PJL) called Francisco Franco.
The Rise of Socialism
Despite the defeat of the defensive alliance in the first world war the Spanish were in a better position than a number of their opponents. Spain still had the majority of its empire and could still extract payments and reparations from there former colonies in South America. Furthermore, the two leading parties in the Cortes, The monarchist National Party and the republican Liberal Party had formed a grand coalition that governed Spain during and after the first world war and retained the backing of the majority of the Spanish population. Furthermore, because it had lost the fewest number of men in the first world war amongst the defensive alliance partners it suffered less from a general discontent that afflicted a number of other countries. Nonetheless, gaps in the Spanish federal system had become to emerge, The Basques in Northern Spain had been the only region to actually face combat from Imperial troops on the Iberian peninsula and they were understandably angry about this prospect, feeling that they had been betrayed by the rest of the Spanish people and by a government that they had never really cared for. Not only that but the specter of Catalonian independence was rearing its ugly head once more. While Spain was still in a better position than many of its rivals only economic prosperity and the force of the still powerful Spanish Army, as it had done for centuries kept the country, and its increasingly rebellious vassal states together.
Perhaps this might not have mattered were it not for the events that unfolded in the Union capital of Amsterdam, As the global stock market collapsed and the world sank into its first global recession, Spain was hit particularly hard. Initially Spain had been able to ride the depression at the expense of the South Americans, demanding ever higher debt repayments. However, the Brazilian Empire which had long grown tired of Spanish interference in South America urged the other states to withhold any repayments above the initially agreed deal. With the backing of the Brazilian state, and far more importantly the Brazilian army, the various South American states refused to pay back the debts that they owed the Spanish. Having become increasingly dependent on those debt repayments the Spanish economy was now on the brink of collapse. In a desperate move the Spanish launched a massive invasion of South America with the expectations that their major opponents, Chile and Argentina would be distracted by the Pacific War that was ongoing between Chile and Japan. However, they were not. While the Chilean and Argentine navies were too busy in the Pacific to prevent the Spaniards from landing an army, the two states had not been idle since their last conflict with the Spaniards, rebuilding their armies with Brazilian and American help. Far from the short sharp war that the Spanish had been expecting, they found themselves dragged into a long term war of attrition far from their homeland.
The war in South America quickly became extremely unpopular, the Spanish military resented that it was being asked to fight a war millions of miles from home to satisfy the political establishment and the public resented that there sons and brothers were dying in a war that the vast majority of them perceived as pointless. Francisco Franco was one of a number of former Army officers and soldiers who were forcibly re-conscripted for the conflict, Franco's conscription was widely viewed as being politically motivated. However, given that the Colonel had widely become seen as the voice of the Spanish opposition, However, despite the best wishes of the establishment Franco survived the war in South America and while doing so reminded many in the military why he had been widely touted as a candidate for General of the Armies. Furthermore, his weekly paper from South America Las Noticias del Frente, the News from the Front presented the Spanish populace with a grim image of what the war was really like. Angered at Franco's increasing popularity the Cortes voted to place the Colonel under arrest when he returned from South America on leave, In response the remaining PJL members of the Cortes walked out in disgust. Arresting Franco gave one of his military comrades, Colonel Jose Castillo the excuse he needed to put his plan in to action, Alongside a number of left-wing militia's and Catalan fighters the Colonel captured the city of Barcelona without a fight and liberated Franco from his jail cell. Not willing to fight there former comrades the Spanish Army almost unanimously threw down its arms. The Government negotiated a truce with Franco's forces, welcoming the PJL into a new coalition government.
Almost immediately differences in the Coalition broke out, however, over how to resolve the conflict in South America with the PJL, as well as significant leftist elements of the Liberal Party supporting an end to the war and the remainder of the Coalition advocating the increased conscription and deployment of troops to South America. The PJL once again walked out in protest, this time accompanied by numerous Liberal's. Although the National Party continued to govern with the remainder of the Liberals there new policies became increasingly unpopular. The final straw came when the government cancelled the 1928 elections on the grounds that the country was in a State of Emergency, the Army which had only just been pacified two years before decided that enough was enough and overthrew the government, placing the majority of the national party under arrest and calling new elections, In the 1928 elections Alejandro Lerroux's rump Liberal Party and Jose Sotelo's right wing Falange were utterly crushed by Franco and Castillo's new Socialist Alliance party that won nearly 80% of the vote.
While in theory the Socialist Alliance was a unified grouping in reality there were major divisions between Franco's nationalist wing and Castillo's Socialists. Spain's official political ideology was National Socialism but that reflected the difficulties within the two camps. This situation essentially pleased Franco who was able to use his initial starting hand in the Military to further enhance his power and crack down on dissent to the SA. To Franco the internal factions within the party would only make it easier to maintain power by keeping opposition within the party than outside it. Castillo, however, worried that Franco would use his power in the military and his popularity to remove Castillo from the party and crack down on democracy. It was true that in Franco's long term plans he planned to remove Castillo from power and install himself as president for life, removing Castillo and any potential threat to his power. That said, however, he didn't plan to do so anytime soon and he intended to keep his long time ally on side for as long as was humanly possible. Castillo, however, sought out allies in the military, seeking to overthrow Franco and his nationalist wing. When Franco found out he was furious, re-branding Castillo's efforts as being against the Spanish state and arresting Castillo and installing himself as regent. Three years later in 1933 he renamed the Socialist Alliance the Francoist Union and banned all other parties, Spain's experiment with democracy was over.
The Second World War
In 1929 Franco had initiated the largest rearmament program in the western world, the existing defensive lines on the Northern border were reinforced with new fortresses and armouries for the armoured divisions stationed along the border. Furthermore, in defiance of the WW1 peace treaty Spanish shipyards laid down a number of brand new Capital Ships, both Battleships and Carriers. Further to this the Spanish army began recruiting in numbers that had in the past been prohibited. Furthermore with the help of Spain's allies in Turkey, now marshaled behind Franco's ideological ally, Grand Vizir Iosef Stalin Franco began to develop new technologies and tactics, amongst them some of the worlds most advanced anti-armour equipment for the Spanish infantry who would be the front line of defense against any French or Anglo-Dutch aggression. Franco had no real expansionist demands, certainly not in the European continent but neither was he a fool, allowing Europe to be dominated by the French and there Nationalist allies served him no better than allowing Europe to be dominated by the Anglo-Dutch and the Germans, Indeed it might even be worse given that the Anglo-Dutch at least had vested interests in keeping Spanish influence in North Africa to control the growing Arab Nationalists. As such he intended that when war did eventually come Spain would be ready for it.
That said the outbreak of war in 1933 shocked Franco just as much as it did the rest of the European establishment, despite his rearmament and other actions, amongst them building an informal alliance with the German political leader and admiral, Erich Raeder. Franco had never truly believed that war could come to the European continent before the end of the decade. Despite having planned to declare for the Union in the event of a continent wide conflict the speed at which Germany, Franco's closest ally on the continent had been overrun convinced him that Spain might be better placed outside the conflict for the time being. The decision, however, remained in the hands of others than himself. When the Germans fled to Africa he believed himself to be obligated to assist his friend, Admiral Raeder. Furthermore when Stalin declared his lot for the Union and launched an attack on the Russian port in the black sea Franco became increasingly convinced that he would have no choice but to declare for the Union. Nonetheless he remained reluctant to declare for the Union, he knew that Spain didn't have the resources to fight a long prolonged war with its northern neighbour, in the end as always Franco took the pragmatic view, ordering even greater military buildup on the northern border.
In the end though the choice was taken out of Franco's hands, despite his wishes to remain neutral the actions of the French government forced Franco's hand by invading Portugal through the northern Spanish territories in order to deny a base for Imperial forces on the continent. The initial military action by the French government overran the most northern defences but once they hit the Montana line one hundred miles into Spain the assault was blunted and driven back. Spanish troops found themselves hard pressed to defend against the onslaught of the much larger French military, despite being outnumbered by a significant margin the Spanish defensive lines held on to there positions. In a bloody war of attrition the advantage granted by the defensive positions allowed the Spanish to survive and drew French troops away from Russia and the Balkans. The fall of Vladivostok, three years into the war alleviated pressure on the Spanish by drawing French troops into Germany to take up to the slack left from the loss of Russian troops.
The withdrawal of French troops to shore up the far east allowed the Spanish to go on the offensive for the first time, after defeating the French forces in open battle just outside Bilbao the Spanish overran the French positions and pushed them back into France itself. Spanish success in France forced the redeployment of large numbers of French troops from the east back to France itself and as a result the Imperial troops in the east were successful in dealing major blows to the Russians. As french troops found themselves on the defensive for the first time in four years the Spanish made a number of major gains, culminating in the capture Toulouse in 1937, allowing Spanish, rather than Union planes to begin bombing raids on Paris. Spanish troops failed to make much progress in the south of France with the Imperial high command prioritising, first the capture of Moscow and then the recapture of much of eastern and northern Germany. In the middle of 1939, however, the Spanish went on the offensive once more, first capturing Bordeaux and then the major French naval bases at Marseille and Nice, ending French naval power in the Mediterranean. With the fall of almost all of France's major cities on the South coast the French advanced farther, taking vast swathes of land and reaching the outskirts of Paris in the winter of 1939. Once Paris fell all that remained was the diving up of the post war world and the defeat of Austria, achieved through the detonation of a nuclear weapon over Budapest.
The Cold War
The end of the second world war saw Spain and the Ottoman Empire emerge as major political and military powers for the first time since the beginning of the first world war, tied together by the mutual friendship of Stalin and Franco the two empires ended the second world war in command of the vast majority of the worlds natural resources and its population. In 1943 the Spanish and the Ottomans signed the Algiers pact, formalisng the alliance between the two states and effectively ending the wartime Imperial Alliance. Then in 1945 the remaining Imperial powers, excluding the United States signed a new treaty, the North Seas Alliance which incorporated a new command structure and was considerably better organised than its Imperial predecessor.
Spain and the Ottoman Empire, however, lacked behind the NSA and its ally Brasil in one key area, the Union, Brasil, Germany and Japan maintained a stockpile of Nuclear weaponry acquired through the joint WW2 era Prometheus project. In 1945, however, the Spanish detonated a nuclear weapon in the African desert, finally placing Spain on an equal place in the world with the Union and its allies. Early areas of conflict between the Spanish and the Union occurred over the French occupation zones, particularly the salient of Spanish control from Lyon up to the outskirts of Paris. In order to legitimise its claim to the French Capital, and more importantly the French military assets that had survived the war, most importantly the Victoire series rockets and the advanced French jet fighters that far exceeded the Union's Glouster Meteors and the Spanish Hispano Saeta the NSA established the Fifth French Republic under the leadership of French exiles, In response the Spanish established the French State with the assistance of collaborators with Franco's military.